7 Networking Never-Dos

I am getting tired of going to unproductive networking events. Why? Because so many people just don’t practice good networking skills. Sometimes I just want to say….It is NOT about YOU! The dreaded elevator “pitches'” are so self-serving and the conversations so meaningless. Please tell me something about yourself that is interesting to me or how you can help me. But that would require listening, a great skill to have, but sometimes difficult to put into practice.

I go to networking events because I do want to meet people, learn more about their products and services and  get to know them better. That is how networking is supposed to work if done right.

Stop yourself from making some of these common “never-do” mistakes and you will find that your networking productivity will increase substantially in terms of  growing your lead database and establishing better relationships.

  • Never have an agenda. Have a networking objective but not an agenda. An objective is something you want to accomplish that will be mutually advantageous to you and the person you are talking to. An agenda is only for your benefit and others will see right through that.
  • Don’t  monopolize the conversation, other people have contributions to make to the conversation too. Ask some questions and interact with others. Learn more about who you are talking to and this will enable you to share your expertise in a way that will be more useful to that person.
  • Don’t stay in one place. Mingle and meet people. It is so easy to find someone to talk to and get too comfortable. The problem with that is you don’t get to circulate. It may be helpful if you prepare yourself ahead of time with some interesting questions to help you get some conversations started. Then, know how to gracefully exit a conversation and move on.
  • Don’t look around the room when you are talking to someone. What kind of message do you think you are sending? That the person you are talking to is not interesting enough? Or not important enough for your attention? During the short time you are talking to anyone, it is important to show interest, establish eye contact and give them your full attention.
  • Don’t just exchange business cards. Have a meaningful conversation so you actually get to know the person you are talking too. Also write something on the back to remind you about the conversation you had. This will enable you to be more personal when you follow-up.
  • Oh yeah…….as I have said before, don’t flop the follow-up! You should follow-up with everyone you exchange cards with, especially if you have established a next step.  Since most people don’t practice the art of the follow-up, this will distinguish you from the others in a networking situation. But don’t be spam. Definitely share what’s going on with your company occasionally, but whatever your follow-up strategy is, don’t bombard with promotions about your product or service. Think about how you can add value, provide advice, make an introduction or something that is useful for the other person. What better way to build and grow a relationship than by helping out in some way.
  • And don’t just talk about yourself and how great you are. No one really cares. But, be genuine about how you can help others. There is a difference.

So, I am curious……What is your experience with networking? What other never-dos should people avoid when networking?

If you want to put together a powerful networking strategy to get better results, check out the Network PRo Toolkit.

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0 Comment

  • Bruce Smith

    These are great suggestions, especially the one about “Don’t look around the room while you are talking to one person.” That really bugs me too. The one thing I hae always learned about networking is that it has to be mutual. If I’ve given someone several good contacts, they should ask, “So how can I help you?”

  • Diana Kiesel

    Whenever you meet someone for the first time you have to be genuine and I believe trust is the important key here, first impressions are definitely lasting impressions. If someone feels comfortable talking with you they are more inclined to want to speak to that person again. I agree that unless an opportunity is there that you just can’t pass on, it is far better to develop the relationship first before ever trying to sell a product or service, trust is the key. Your credibility with a new contact speaks volumes and can open the door for so many more leads in the future.

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Diana, great points and trust is definitely the cornerstone to any good relationship. I appreciate your thoughts.

  • Linda G Richardson

    Very topical Sheryl
    Two rules I follow
    1. Make it a point to introduce someone at that meeting to another person. It helps to faciliate conversation and eases tension of “being alone”
    2. Don’t get personal, I was networking last night and learned from someone I just met: a. was divorced (ugly) b. lost his license c. his father squandered the family fortune. All too much information!

  • Denise Dale

    Great article Sheryl, I do think networking is a skill and all the points already raised are really helpful. I agree with you about having objectives as I think this is valuable and measurable. Recently I read that a good question to ask whilst networking is “what type of clients are you looking for?” and “how can I help you?”. I also believe in a win/win relationship and collaboration is something I am building in my business.

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Those are good questions Denise. And people should know how to answer those questions specific enough so someone can help. Sometimes I hear the answer “I can do everything” or “I can help anyone”, but that makes it difficult to know the best types of clients they work with so you can make the best referrals. Thanks!

  • Carrie Harrison

    Thanks Sheryl, I don’t know how many times that I have to keep teaching people how to do this. It does need to be taught. So I make it a point when I am in a networking event to find the novice networker and “work” with them.

  • Tim Houston

    Your point about writing notes on the back of business cards, while it’s really important, you need to know first, who you are networking with. Different cultures have different rules when it comes to business cards. For example, if dealing with Japaneese business people, there’s an entire ritual called meishi. The business card is to be handled a certain way using both hands, and because the person’s name and title is on the card, writing notes on the back of the card is prohibited: they view it as defacing the person as well as the card.

    Here’s another networking no-no: Do not become “The Wanderer”. They attend networking events, business expos, trade shows, and networking groups. In my book, The World’s Worst Networker: Lessons Learned By The Best From The Absolute Worst, I profile The Wanderer as one of The World’s Worst Networkers in many respects because they are not focused on networking at all. Instead, they are focused on one thing: just making the sale and making it fast. They approach their victim with a very strong sense of urgency to the point where the victim feels pressured. Sometimes they will say that their products won’t be available very long; other times they will outright tell you that they are just “passing through” and this is a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” Networking and selling are two mutually exclusive processes and Wanderers don’t (or don’t want to) understand this.

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Carrie, what a great idea and something that all good networkers should consider doing. I know that I am going to take your advice as I go to network events moving forward.

  • BD-PRo Marketing Solutions

    Tim, you bring some very interesting and valuable points to this discussion. Thank-you for bringing up cultural distinctions which is very important. Also, I absolutely agree about “The Wanderer”. Interestingly, I met someone recently that believes that in order to get the most value from his networking investment, he should take that approach. I cautioned that this could be a turn-off to those he meets and could potentially compromise his investment instead. Thanks for sharing this lesson from your book.

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